Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

So what do we really know about innovation in international development? Summary of new book (+…

Ben Ramalingam of IDS and Kirsten Bound of Nesta share insights from their new open-access book on innovation for development (download it here). And you get to vote (see end) Innovation is increasingly popular in international development. The last ten years have seen new initiatives, funds, and pilots aplenty. While some of this involves genuinely novel and experimental approaches, we have also seen – perhaps …

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How can campaigners influence the private sector? 4 lessons from the Behind the Brands campaign…

Oxfam private sector researcher/evaluation adviser Uwe Gneiting reflects on 3 years of a campaign to change thebehavior of Big Food Last month we marked the third anniversary of the Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign with a new briefing paper that included an updated scorecard of the world’s ten largest food and beverage companies’ sustainability policies. As an evaluator looking at Behind the Brands, I’ve been …

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Do people identify as global or national citizens? New report suggests a tipping point, but…

This is interesting, and feels like it could be part of a big normative shift. According to a new report from Globescan (a polling company), across 20,000 people in 18 countries ‘more than half (51%) see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country, against 43 per cent who identify nationally. This is the first time since tracking began in 2001 that there …

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How Change Happens: a conversation with 25 top campaigners from around the world

Spent an exhilarating morning last week with Oxfam’s ‘Campaigns and Advocacy Leadership Programme’. Must have been at least 20 nationalities in the room, with huge experience and wisdom. The topic was How Change Happens (what else). To give you a flavour, here are some of the topics that came up, with my takes on them: Is power a zero sum game, i.e. empowering one group …

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The Politics of Inclusive Development: Two Books; One Title

Guest review from Alice Evans, Human Geography lecturer, Cambridge The age of ‘best practice’ is over. The time of politics has come. Rather than identify and rollout effective policies, we need to understand the political struggles and coalitions by which socio-economic and political resources come to be redistributed more equitably – across classes, genders, ethnicities and spaces. The Politics of Inclusive Development: Policy, State Capacity, …

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Is Disruption a good thing? Let’s ask Southern Civil Society leaders for a change.

Disruption is cool in the development chattersphere right now, and that may not be a good thing – what if the thing being disrupted is actually useful or valuable? Do you want your marriage/home/body/ cat disrupted? Thought not. Organizations doing good work don’t necessarily have to be innovative (what about practice makes perfect?); good partners don’t have to be new and funky. Above all, poor …

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How to read and comment on a draft paper – your suggestions please

Today’s vlog (I’ll be coming back to you in a few weeks to ask whether these are worth doing) I spend a lot of time commenting on draft research and policy papers, both for Oxfam and beyond. So I put down some ideas on how I approach it, got some great input from Oxfam Research Team colleagues, and now we want to ask you to …

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The Global Beneficial Ownership Register: a new approach to fighting corruption by combining…

A second post on corruption ahead of tomorrow’s summit. Activists are often more concerned with how they see the world than with understanding how others see it, but understanding what motivates and incentivises others is crucial to building coalitions for change. Transparency campaigner David McNair describes one such example, a wonky-but-important demand for a Global Beneficial Ownership Register to curb tax evasion. After more than …

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Should aid fight corruption? New book questions logic behind this week’s anti-corruption…

Over at the Center for Global Development, Charles Kenny wants comments on the draft of his book on Aid and Corruption (deadline end of May). Let’s hope this becomes standard practice – it worked brilliantly for me on How Change Happens – more varied voices can chip in good new ideas, spot mistakes or contradictions, and it all helps get a buzz going ahead of publication. …

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Here’s a summary of The Economist’s important critique of GDP and suggestions for reform

‘Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made’ said Otto von Bismarck. Turns out you can probably add GDP to that list. Last week’s Economist had a comprehensive takedown of the uses and abuses of Gross Domestic Product as an indicator of wellbeing, economic health or pretty much anything else. People have been critiquing GDP ever since it was created, …

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Book Review: The Economics of Poverty by Martin Ravallion

Oxfam inequality number cruncher Deborah Hardoon reviews The Economics of Poverty by Martin Ravallion.  It’s hard to think of a better placed individual than Martin Ravallion to have written this book. Not only has he spent over 30 years working on poverty, including 24 years at the World Bank, but in 1990 it was Martin Ravallion who, during dinner with his wife had an ‘epiphany …

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Book Review: Rich People, Poor Countries – the evolution of the South’s plutocrats

Another addition to the inequality library. Rich People, Poor Countries has a less ambitious sweep than Piketty, Deaton or Milanovic’s grand narratives. Author Caroline Freund does some very revealing number crunching on the changing face of the annual Forbes billionaires list to explore ‘the rise of emerging-market tycoons and their mega firms’, in the words of the book’s subtitle. Unfortunately she laces her findings with …

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A crunch point for Indian civil society – what are the options?

Second installment on last week’s India visit. Vlog from Lucknow and a debate with Oxfam India’s Vanita Suneja   In the rolling, 16 hour-a-day seminar that is a field trip, one topic kept coming up in my conversations in India last week. Many civil society organizations feel beleaguered. As the Indian economy booms, the foreign aid agencies on which many CSOs have come to depend …

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The income of the world’s poor is going up, but they’re $1 trillion poorer. What’s going…

Oxfam number cruncher Deborah Hardoon tries to get her head round something weird – according to the stats, the poorest half of the people are getting poorer even though their incomes are rising. It has become something of a tradition that in January every year we take a look at the Forbes list of billionaires and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth databook and calculate how …

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